Queen Anne Architecture

1 Jul

Queen Anne Style architectureThe Queen Anne Style is a style of architecture, furniture and decoration that reached its greatest popularity in the last quarter of the 19th century, manifesting itself in a number of different ways in different countries. It consisted largely of influences that harked back to “Old English” or even Tudor styles and characteristics.

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This Queen Anne style derived from the influence of Richard Norman Shaw, an influential British architect of the late Victorian era. Seen from the 1870s onwards, this style revived features of English architecture from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, including, initially, elements from the historical reign of Queen Anne (1702-14).

 

19th Century Queen Anne

The Queen Anne Style of British architecture in the 1870s (the industrial age) was popularized by George Devey and the better-known Richard Norman Shaw (1831-1912). Norman Shaw published a book of architectural sketches as early as 1858, and his evocative pen-and-ink drawings began to appear in trade journals and artistic magazines in the 1870s. American commercial builders were quick to pick up the style.

Shaw’s eclectic designs often included Tudor elements, and this “Old English” style became popular in the United States, where it became known as the Queen Anne style (although this was not historically accurate). (Confusion between buildings constructed during the reign of Queen Anne and the “Queen Anne” Style still persists, especially in England. The well known architectural commentator and author Marcus Binney, writing in the London Times in 2006, describes “Poulton House” built in 1706, during the reign of Queen Anne, as “…Queen Anne at its most delightful”. [3] Binney lists what he describes as the typical features of the style: a sweep of steps leading to a carved stone door-case; rows of painted sash windows in boxes set flush with the brickwork; stone quoins emphasising corners; a central triangular pediment set against a hipped roof with dormers; typically box-like “double pile” plans, two rooms deep.)

In the late 1850s, the name “Queen Anne” was in the air, following publication in 1852 of William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel, The History of Henry Esmond, Esq., A Colonel in the Service of Her Majesty Queen Anne.

One minor side effect of Thackeray’s novel and Norman Shaw’s freehand picturesque vernacular Renaissance survives to this day. When, in the early 1870s, Chinese-inspired Early Georgian furniture on cabriole legs, featuring smooth expanses of walnut, and chairs with flowing lines and slat backs began to be looked for in out-of-the-way curio shops (Macquoid 1904), the style was misattributed to the reign of Queen Anne, and the “Queen Anne” misnomer has stuck to this day, in American as well as English furniture style designations. (Even the most stylish and up-to-date furnishings of the historical reign of Queen Anne, as inventories reveal, was in a style that would be immediately identified now as “William and Mary.”)

The British Victorian version of the style is closer in empathy to the arts and crafts movement than its American counterpart. Its historic precedents were broad: it combined fine brickwork, often in a warmer, softer finish than the Victorians were characteristically using, varied with terra-cotta panels, or tile-hung upper stories, with crisply painted white woodwork, or blond limestone detailing: oriel windows, often stacked one above another, corner towers, asymmetrical fronts and picturesque massing, Flemish mannerist sunken panels of strapwork, deeply shadowed entrances, broad porches, in a domesticated free Renaissance style.

When an open architectural competition was announced in 1892, for a County Hall (see photo, above) to be built in Wakefield, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the instructions to competitors noted that “the style of architecture will be left to the competitors but the Queen Anne or Renaissance School of Architecture appears suited to an old town like Wakefield” (ref. Wakefield). The executed design, by James Gibson and Samuel Russell, architects of London, combines a corner turret, grandly domed and with gargoyles at the angles, freely combined with Flemish Renaissance stepped gables.

References
^ A Pictorial Guide to Identifying Australian Architecture, Apperly (Angus and Robertson) 1994, p.132
^ Cambridge Encyclopedia, Crystal (Cambridge University Press) 1994, p.69
^ The Times, “Bricks and Mortar” Supplement, 5 May 2006, pp.6-7.
^ The New York House and School of Industry was absorbed in 1951 by Greenwich House, a more extensive privately-funded social services agency.
^ Christopher Gray, “Streetscapes: The New York House and School of Industry; Where the Poor Learned ‘Plain and Fine Sewing'”, New York Times, September 6, 1987 Accessed 19 August 2008.
^ Queen Anne Style
^ a b c “Elizabethan and later English furniture” (1877-12). Harper’s New Monthly Magazine 56 (331): 18–33.
^ A Pictorial Guide to Identifying Australian Architecture, p.132
^ The Federation House, Hugh Fraser (New Holland) 2002, p.24
^ Sydney Architecture, Graham Jahn (Watermark Press) 1997, p.62
^ The Federation House, p.22
^ A Pictorial Guide to Identifying Australian Architecture, pp.132-135
^ Sydney Morning Herald, January 25th 2008, page 3

Further reading
Girouard, Mark, Sweetness and Light: The Queen Anne Movement, 1860-1900, Yale University Press, 1984. The primary survey of the movement.
Macquoid, Percy, Age of Walnut, 1904.
Vincent J. Scully Jr, The Shingle Style and the Stick Style: Architectural Theory and Design from Downing to the Origins of Wright, revised edition, Yale University Press, 1971.
Rifkind, Carole. A Field Guide to American Architecture. Penguin Books, New York, 1980.
Whiffen, Marcus. American Architecture Since 1780, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1999.

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